No silence, please

COMMERCIAL telephone conversations have obviously undergone serious scientific study since the days when people just got busy signals. Our psyches have been computerized. Business houses no longer trust our naked, unprogrammed decisions. They feel we no longer know what we want or like until we have been thoroughly probed by IBM.

Evidently it has been discovered that nobody can stand silence on the telephone anymore. It is now thought that silence frightens us to the point that we either hang up or say we don't want any.

As a result, when we make a phone call and don't get an immediate connection, the corporation we are calling puts us on ``hold,'' and while we wait woos us with soothing music. Well, music may be too specific a term. It is a sound imitating music. It is a xylophone-violin version of ``The Blue Danube'' or else a tight little female voice singing, ``I hear music when there's no one there. . . .''

If the oncoming business conversation involves more money and greater courage, one might listen to the theme from ``Star Wars.''

This is the direct result of earlier research.

A dozen years ago some meddlesome scientific busybody found out that cows gave more milk if they listened to music. I have never been in a barn where all the cows were contentedly wearing earphones, but a lot of farms did use loudspeakers to pipe in old bovine favorites such as ``The Anniversary Waltz.''

Cows loved it. Except in barns where Chinese music was used and the milk soured, milk production zoomed.

Apparently the same holds true for people. If one hears sweet music he is likely to give more milk, figuratively speaking, to a company plying him with pseudo-symphonic recordings.

But recently I had a shock. While at a garage I called home for some information about the car. My wife answered. When she heard what I wanted she said, ``Just a minute, I'll look it up.'' And suddenly I was listening to a tinny version of ``Home Sweet Home'' on my own telephone. I yelled for my wife to turn it off, but she couldn't.

We've got a ``hold'' button on our own telephone which insists on soothing the waiting ear.

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